A scene from 'Get Carter'
Courtesy Photo
**1/2 stars 108 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, October 6, 2000
Directed by Stephen Kay

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Leigh Cook, Alan Cumming, Mickey Rourke, Michael Caine, John C. McGinley & Rhona Mitra


The best thing this slick and fast vengeance flick has going for it is exactly what's lost the most to the small screen - its visuals. If you're in it for Stallone, you could do worse. If you're in it for the uber-cool criminal element, get "Payback" instead. If you want the whole package (great story, great acting, great visuals) try "The Limey." Or rent the original "Get Carter" instead!

   VIDEO RELEASE: 02.13.2001


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Stallone scowls through stylish retribution retread "Get Carter"

By Rob Blackwelder

If the rain-slicked new Sylvester Stallone revenge fantasy flick "Get Carter" seems a little familiar, it's with good reason.

It could be that the picture is a remake of a gnarly 1971 film of the same name (starring Michael Caine, who appears in this one too).

It could be that the bad-guy-going-after-worse-guys plot -- about a Las Vegas mob enforcer determined to find and snuff the people who whacked his estranged brother -- isn't all that different from the story of a hard-as-nails parolee avenging his daughter in last year's "The Limey."

Then again, in execution and style it's an awful lot like Mel Gibson's 1999 glamorous guns-a-blazin' vindication venture "Payback" -- which was itself a remake of 1967's "Point Blank."

Or it could just be that Sylvester Stallone is Sylvester Stallone is Sylvester Stallone in pretty much every movie he makes.

But even though watching Stallone rough guys up in "Get Carter" feels like a retread of a retread, director Stephen Kay ("The Last Time I Committed Suicide") turns the experience into a stimulating visual showcase of stylish filmmaking that keeps a viewer's attention.

Taking photography and editing cues from David Fincher ("Fight Club"), Steven Soderbergh (who made "The Limey") and Michael Bay ("Armageddon," "The Rock"), Kay turns the action into a symphony of images that pack a punch. It's not the story, but the signature look of the picture that keeps it interesting.

Kay owes a debt of gratitude to cinematographer Mauro Fiore for his wet, color-saturated rendering of Seattle -- he makes it look sexy, dank and dangerous. Editor Jerry Greenberg deserves part of the credit too, for maintaining the picture's energy level with his kinetic, staccato cuts, loops and splices.

Kay is smart enough to know he doesn't have a lot to work with here, yet doesn't waste time with expository backstory, extraneous childhood flashbacks, or explanation of the Carter boys' falling out. Those things aren't relevant and he knows it. The brother is already dead when the film opens. Kay jumps straight into the action. He even manages to keep the catch phrases in check.

Stallone is solid (if stoic) as Carter, even if it is another flawed, permanently scowling tough guy role he could do in his sleep. But in an odd stroke of prestige casting, Miranda Richardson and Alan Cumming are wasted in stage-prop parts.

Richardson is the brother's widow. Cumming is a twerpy software millionaire who blunders into a crooked business relationship with the movie's maximum-bad malefactors -- "young stuff" pornographers who doped and exploited Carter's niece (Rachel Leigh Cook). They're lead by Mickey Rourke, who matches Stallone stone-cold stare for stone-cold stare.

Thanks to its stylishness and dynamism, "Get Carter" does grab the audience and doesn't let go. (A killer "French Connection"-style car chase ups the ante by taking place on Seattle's slippery-when-wet avenues.) But as remake retribution shoot-'em-ups go, it doesn't measure up to the grittier, more entertaining "Payback."

This movie may be twice as flashy, but it's only half as cool.

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